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132 Canadian Review of American Studze.s authority) of works which cover the "major issues" of race in American literature is thus risky, yet finally extremely useful to our understanding of this topic. Kimberly Drake University of California, Berkeley Robert S. Fogarty. All Things New: American Communes and Utopian Movements 1860-1914. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990. Pp. vii + 286, bibliography and illustrations. For a long time in American Studies the conventional wisdom-formed in part by literary historians' absorption with Brook Farm-decreed that experimentation with utopian communities virtually disappeared after the Civil War. Occasionally, fine monographs such as Robert Hine's Cali/omia's Utopian Colonies (Huntington Library, 1953) or Charles LeWarne's Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915 (University of Washington Press, 1975) suggested otherwise; but now Robert S. Fogarty has compiled the fullest rebuttal . Fogarty has spent two decades of research recovering over 140 fascinating and often obscure communal groups from the period 1860-1914. All Things New weaves their colourful histories, culled from an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, into a rich and engaging narrative, which is supplemented by fresh photographs and an excellent bibliographic essay. Fogarty divides communal groups into three categories, "cooperative colonizers, charismatic perfectionists, and political pragmatists" (16). But he does not press this typology very hard, and he appears skeptical about sociological studies that correlate economic distress and millenarianism or isolate key conditions of success and failure. Instead, All Things New offers a wonderfully diverse array of detailed communal histories punctuated by suggestive meditations on less precise but more pregnant cultural themes: tensions between individualism and community, the persistence of religious millennialism, the attraction of the frontier, the confluence of individual and communal 11 journeying,1' and the penetration of mainstream culture even into "enclaves of difference." Fogarty's essentially pointillist approach invites readers to find intriguing patterns in the dots rather than arranging them to be seen one way. BookReviews 133 Given the widely disparate communal personalities and careers involved, this seems a wise choice. Fogarty's portraits range from Thomas Lake Harris's mystical Brotherhood of the New Life (1861) and various profitseekingKansas and Colorado ventures of the 1870s, to the socialist colony of Equality (1897) and the bizarre Koreshan Unity cult (1894), which was convinced that the earth is concave and located itself in "the vitellus of the CosmogonicEgg,,-Estero, Florida (79). Throughout the book Fogarty maintainsan admirably respectful attitude toward these groups which, while not short on irony, is never condescending. Only when describing the manipulations and abuses of Shiloh's Frank Sandford-the sole communal leader inthe book who can compare with Jim Jones or David Koresh--does Fogarty drawthe line. AllThingsNew is not without flaws. A study that stresses continuities in utopianism should make some case for its periodization. There is a logic to beginning in 1860, where earlier studies left off, but why Fogarty ends in 1914is never revealed. There are too many typographical errors and misspelled names for a book that will undoubtedly be used as a standard reference; a second or paperback edition should correct this. Perhaps most important, despite all his capsule communal histories, Fogarty has not disproved the older view exemplified by historian Arthur Bestor that communitarianism lost its edge for the larger society as the nineteenth century wore on. At bottom, this is a qualitative statement not a quantitative one; it rests not upon the number of post-Civil War communities, but upon their distance from centres of power and influence, the public's perception of them as increasingly anachronistic in an urban-industrial age, and communal leaders' own definition of them as local islands of godliness or social justice in a nationalized society. Still, after reading Fogarty's book, no one can defend the glib generalization that communal experimentation died after the Civil War and wasreplaced by utopian novels such as Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888). Not the least of the many strengths of All Things New is its suggestion that communities and novels were twin manifestations of a rich andcontinuous utopian contest for America that began with the Puritans and haspersisted to the verge of Bellamy's Year 2000. Carl]. Guameri...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 132-133
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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